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Plenty of bills build fast from Two Bulls Fire

By Dan McCarthy
Published On: Aug 06 2014 06:41:08 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2014 10:42:58 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Dan McCarthy breaks down the budget of Bend's big fire

BEND, Ore. -

In just six days, $5 million has been spent fighting the 6,908-acre Two Bulls Fire west of Bend. 

Not exactly a fire sale price tag, but for the Oregon Department of Forestry, it's a necessary one.

"We want to hit it hard and fast," Deputy Incident Commander Link Smith said Thursday.  "And when a fire like this is moving like it was, towards a town like Bend, we're going to hit it with everything we can and try and stop that spread."

But hitting with everything they can doesn't come cheap.

Smith said 20-person hand crews cost roughly $10,000 a day.  For Sky Crane helicopters, the tab runs  $17,000 to $18,000 an hour.

Not to mention the men and women running those machines and fighting the flames.

"We've got a small city out here," Smith said at fire camp.  "To bring this kind of infrastructure out here to take care of those kinds of folks, feed them, house them and to fight the fire, costs do add up quickly."

But that doesn't mean the department isn't always looking for ways to cut those costs.  One tactic: using prison inmates.

"We utilize them here, not only in our agency for our kitchen crews, and our camp crews, that's who's cooking all of our food, kind of helping run the camp here."

There are currently 143 Oregon inmates aiding at fire camp, another way to balance the budget while battling Two Bulls.

"Not only have we put a lot of effort out, we spend a lot of money," said Smith. "We like to be fiscally responsible, and we don't want to let this one go at this stage."

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